THE BLOG
01/13/2015 03:06 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2015

A Peek Inside a Luxury Brand Manual

I have a passion for luxury brands; it's in my DNA. When I spend time reading...don't laugh, I read about brands, marketing, digital and innovation. However, I also read about luxury brands and see how they are producing their marketing. Once in a while I am told that I think like a digital marketing nerd. You know what? I am okay with that. I am a more intelligent, creative, innovative marketer because of it.

This is not a glowing review about which luxury brands are performing. Those brands are easy to see, as they are exposed in all the right places, and getting lots of positive PR. It is however a rant about why some of the luxury brands look similar. In other words, we'll take a peek inside and see what many luxury brand manuals have asked marketers to produce.

The All Important Brand Manual

In case you don't know, a brand manual includes a comprehensive description of the guiding principles, policies and 'brand' elements required for successful communications, marketing, advertising and public relations. Since I only have a few paragraphs, I won't go into all the details, however, I will say that a brand manual is absolutely critical for successful marketing to occur.

Today's Luxury Brand Manual

It seems to me that many agencies and marketing departments are executing from the same brand manual. As a career marketer with many years of luxury brand experience, I am seeing trends that cause me to come to this conclusion and scratch my head in bewilderment. Did a luxury brand manual get posted on the Internet for a free download?

Hmm. Maybe.

5 Common Marketing Tactics Used For Uncommon Customers

Colors - Black and white: Those of us in marketing know that the colors black and white can mean. We understand. Why is it many brands are using the same color scheme? Certainly other colors can be introduced to exude prestige and luxury. After all, marketers are creative... so get creative and stop using the same black and white colors all the time.

The Big City: Frank Sinatra sang an incredibly popular song titled "New York, New York." I think all marketers must have listened to it way too much over the years, and now it's cemented on their brains. Why is it big cities appear to be used all the time when luxury brands are promoting themselves? Do rich people only live in big cities? I don't think so. For those of you out in the burbs, according to luxury brand marketers, you're not rich and important unless you live in the city.

Sex Appeal: Have you noticed many brands are using sex as part of their marketing? It seems like many luxury brands focus on sex more than on sex appeal. There is a difference. Yeah, I know, sex sells. I learned that back in marketing 101. However, I feel many brands have taken sex and marketing to an entirely new level and the they all have the same photo shoot angles, showing the same amount of cleavage, with the same sunglasses, next to the same automobile, wearing the same style dress or tuxedo... and everyone always wears a Rolex timepiece or carries a Gucci bag. Oh, I almost forgot. There must be a jet in the background too.

Simplicity vs. Creativity: What I have seen with many luxury brands is they often use two distinctly different creative treatments for their marketing. One option is a very simple look and feel, while the other is a highly creative, technology-driven look and feel. I cannot say what is best unless I fully understand the brand, positioning, price, product and target audience. However, I can say, how can brands that are going after the same type of person be so different in their creative treatments?

Young - Hip Music: Try visiting a luxury brand website. You know, the one that's real posh and exclusive. Have you noticed most of those sites make you feel 25 again even though the brand is targeting 50-60 year olds? It's quite possible that the same music track was used for most of them. The funny thing is, the 25 year olds don't have all the money right now, it's still the baby boomers.

Hmm... I guess someone hasn't been paying close attention to the uncommon customer lately. C'mon marketers, it's time to re-write the luxury brand manual - please.